I STARTED THIS website in mid-2011 with the intention of writing stuff. It replaced the six-year-old Zapata Tales, which was also written stuff, but that stuff was mostly about my living in Mexico, a topic that had begun to bore me, so I was branching out.
I’m good at writing stuff, far better than average. But I’ve never taken a class on it. I’ve never attended workshops. I don’t worry about themes and structure, nor am I interested in the slightest in trading tips with other “writers.” I fly entirely solo.
When I do write stuff, I just wing it. I prefer fiction, but there have been periods in my life that were so wacky that they’ve provided real-life material. A couple of examples of that are Victoria and the cowboy and Swimming with the fishes. Yes, I’m plugging myself, drumming up traffic.
The fiction that I’ve written in recent years now rests on my other website The Pearls of Zapata. I have some favorites. More plugs: The broken staircase, which I’m particularly fond of, The old wolf, and then there are the relatively brief Waco spaceman and the demented Sunny side up.
Some things never landed on The Pearls of Zapata. Instead they got their own websites. There are links in the right-side column. Two are jungle-themed. I think strange things tend to happen in the jungle because it’s hot there, and people go wild in heat.
For many years I’ve wanted to go deep into the jungle, perhaps in Ecuador, and eat ayuhuasca while lying naked, but I never did and cannot imagine that I will now since I’ve gotten rather long in the tooth. Some things are best done when young.
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My father was a writer, a very good one. He and I shared many traits. He was a newspaper editor, as was I. He retired early, as did I. He was a rather serious dude, as I have become. He drank too much for a long time, as did I. He quit in his mid-50s, as did I. He spent his post-work years writing poetry, settling at last into haiku, where he became quite well known.
He was a life-long left-winger. I am a right-winger. He had no adventuresome spirit while I have lots. His politics were shaped by the Great Depression and witnessing — as a newspaper reporter in the late 1930s — violent, machine-gun-involving, union-busting by fat-cat corporate types.
The 1930s made him while the 1960s, to a lesser degree, made me. The 1930s were miserable times and, looking back, so were the 1960s because they created the self-absorbed, clueless American culture we now see spiraling down the drain hole.
My father died of a heart attack at 75. I am 70, but I feel real good.
How did we wander off to my father? Oh, yes, I like to write, and so did he. Plus, I confessed up top that I never studied structure nor attended writing workshops that might have focused me better. My father did attend workshops and studied structure. Haiku is very structured.
Some time last year, I stopped writing fiction. It was unintentional. The muse deserted me. Perhaps it had something to do with age. Maybe the little gray cells are drying up. I wonder if it’s permanent. Concurrently, I notice that living in a foreign country has ceased to amaze me.
But I still like it very, very much.
We’re going to the Pacific coast tomorrow for a few days. It will be very hot. Perhaps I’ll find some ayahuasca, but I doubt it. I’ll stick to mango snowballs and fried shrimp.
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(Photo notes: The mugshot is my father though it could almost be me. And what does the photo up top have to do with the post? Nothing at all. Those masks hang in the Hacienda hallway.)